Jacques Nienaber explains why he decided to step away from the Springboks

Jacques Nienaber explains why he decided to step away from the Springboks

Outgoing Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber has explained the reasoning behind his move to Leinster and why he turned down other international offers to return to the club game.

The World Cup winner fronted his first press conference in Leinster blue on Tuesday and revealed why he opted to cut his international coaching career short and return to Ireland, where he previously helped coach Munster.

While the final against the All Blacks was just six weeks ago, Nienaber insists there is no time for looking back at this stage of his career as looks ahead to his new challenge.

"No, it's gone! Water under the bridge," he said when asked to reflect on the World Cup.

"The past is the past; you can't change that. And the future, the future. One day, when you're older, maybe you'll enjoy the memories, but it's done."

Nienaber took over as head coach of the Springboks from long-time friend Rassie Erasmus in 2020 after being promoted from the defence coaching role.

He went on to guide the side to a British and Irish Lions Test Series victory before successfully defending their World Cup title. Despite his success at international level as both a defence and head coach, Nienaber felt that he needed a break from Test rugby after six years with the Boks - and admitted his family had played a big part in his decision to step away.

"I just felt I had lost a lot of time with my family. That's why the decision was made in January/February," Nienaber explained.

"My wife said, 'Listen, I don't think we can do another four years of this.' The kids said, 'Dad, we need you at home,' and that's why when the opportunity came up again with Leinster, I was nervous because I didn't want to lose that cutting edge being challenged. I didn't want to lose that because I feel that makes you a good coach.

"That's why this job for me was a perfect fit, I'm going to be challenged as a coach tremendously. There's going to be big expectations, but at least I have some family time as well."

Nienaber spoke to Erasmus and the South African Rugby Union about his decision, and when the opportunity arose with Leinster, they gave him their blessing.

"They were happy with it," he said. "They gave me their blessing, and then, when the opportunity came up, we announced it as quickly as possible because it was never for me [that] I didn't want to work in South Africa anymore.

"There was other offers from other internationals. It wasn't for me to change, or to move, or to come north. It wasn't anything like that. It was just that I needed to get away from international rugby. That was the reason."

With Nienaber exiting his head coach role at the Springboks, it has been confirmed that Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus will return to the position he held before passing the baton to his protege following the Springboks Rugby World Cup win in 2019.